Calories or Carbs?
Calories do count, but where they come from counts more. Think of your body as a chemistry lab, not a bank account. It is not as simple as calories in = calories out. If only it were that easy. At the end of the day you need to be burning more calories than you store. For most of us trying to lose weight, this means eating less and moving more. But that is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning. Different foods have different hormonal and physiological responses and depending on your health and fitness goals, your calories should be coming from specific places. You can use proteins, fats and carbohydrates to balance these hormonal responses.
How much protein should you eat? What are the best types? Your protein needs should be based on your lean body mass determined from your body composition test. This amount should be divided into 3-5 servings depending on how often you eat. Your body can’t store extra protein, so once you’ve used what your body needs, you will convert the extra protein to sugar that is stored as glycogen and fat. The best sources of proteins are fish, organic eggs, whey protein, lean chicken or turkey, and other free range and organic animal meats.
What is the role of fat? What types should you eat? When we talk about fat we usually talk about “good fats” and “bad fats”. The “good” fats are monounsaturated and omega-3 (polyunsaturated) fats. Sources of good fat in your diet include olive oil, avocado, omega-3 eggs, cold water fish and raw nuts and seeds. These good fats help with cell membrane fluidity (which improves hormone binding, such as insulin), make you feel fuller longer, help the absorption of all soluble vitamins, aid with the regulation of your inflammatory response, and thus reduce the risk of chronic diseases. These fats also increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Be sure to include fat soluble antioxidants in your supplement regimen as these fats easily oxidize. Remember that oxidized or damaged fats are worse than not including the “good” fats in your diet.
What about carbs? How does fiber figure into it? You should eliminate all refined, low fiber, and processed carbohydrates. These foods have little or no nutritional value and cause an exaggerated insulin response that leads to blood sugar swings and more carb cravings. Processed and refined carbohydrates have been shown to lead to the development of a damaged metabolism and health problems, such as Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Focus on high-fiber carbs such as nonstarchy vegetables. Also, limited amounts of whole grain and sprouted grain products can be included in a healthy diet. Fiber is a carbohydrate that is not absorbed so it does not have an effect on blood sugar. When reading a label you can deduct the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate number to get the “net carbs” that will affect your blood sugar.
How about fruit? Is this a healthy sugar? A small amount of fruit, about 1 cup serving, is a good amount of fruit per day. Fruit is sweet because it contains the sugar fructose. This is different than other sugars in some ways, but it still is a sugar. Limit your fruit intake to the morning times and focus on vegetables for fiber. When choosing a fruit, berries are your best choice due to their high-fiber content and great antioxidant profile. Also pears and apples are high in fiber. Eating fruit with a small amount of protein and fat slows the effective rise in blood sugar. Try eating your fruit with a piece of low fat cheese, nuts or nut butter.